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Feb 22, 2017 | 3 min read


3 services from digital giants to boost your drive-to-store process

Joachim Renaudin

Senior Project Analyst

If 90% of the 2016 retail sales occurred in physical points of sale, most of them were influenced by digital interactions – over 50% on a mobile platform. E-commerce and m-commerce are far from causing the disappearance of brick and mortar. Better still, brands now see digital as a way to strengthen their in-store experience and traffic – the famous drive-to-store process – rather than as the doom of their physical sales.

Because they create a link between physical and digital worlds, because they have their owners constantly connected, because they follow them everywhere and collect behavioral-geographical data, smartphones are transforming the approach to drive-to-store strategies.

Brands are constantly looking for new ways to bring crowds to their stores. In 2016, two years after the Beacons Promise, restaurants, ready-to-wear stores and malls took advantage of the Pokemon Go phenomenon to generate in-store traffic.

The bubble has now blown over and brands are looking for long-term levers, easy to implement and above all that enable them to accurately measure the online / offline conversion.

And, as often in the new economy, digital giants – especially Facebook and Google – are in the best position to serve them. Because they benefit from an unrivaled critical mass of users and because they endlessly improve the accuracy and relevance of their tools, they are determined to make media the best lever for drive-to-store campaigns.

Facebook helps you create geo-localized ads with dynamic content

You have probably been targeted as part of Facebook’s testing of a new ad product with dynamic content, aimed at helping business owners accurately target Internet users in order to generate in-store traffic. No matter how many followers you have, or what your budget is, Facebook offers you to quickly:

  • display dynamic ads showing Internet users who visited your website the products they looked up, with the possibility to add a discount coupon to the offer (Facebook Offers);
  • locate them and check the availability of this product in the closest store; and
  • build a store locator tool in the ad to guide the client towards the closest store.

On the brand side, the strength of Facebook’s product lies in its ability to measure the in-store traffic generated. To this end, Facebook collects data from client loyalty cards and from purchase data of some in-store “mobile points of sale”, such as payment terminal Square, which can turn any computer or iPad into a cash register.

The end-goal is to match mobile purchase data and click-through Facebook ads. Finally, Facebook also uses geolocation data of mobile users who authorized it to estimate the total number of in-store visits.

“Looking for Barber in Sevilla”: Google facilitates local search

Local search – e.g. “good cocktails in London”, “where to find wedding shoes in Mexico” – is booming: its growth is 50% higher than that of average mobile searches. To answer this growing popularity, Google launched Local Inventory Ads so retailers can promote products available in store to nearby potential clients.

  • Google detects the local intent of mobile searches by analyzing key-words
  • Google displays a local storefront – some kind of virtual store front – allowing mobile users to visualize the inventory of the closest store, and obtain its opening hours and address – without leaving the page
  • Google’s store locator can also be built in Google My Business pages – a directory of well-optimized websites offered by Google for free – and in Google Shopping results.

Google thus improves the conversion by filtering ad targeting according to local purchase intents.

Snapchat Geofilters – the digital word of mouth

In 2016, Snapchat launched customized, geo-localized filters to enable brands to reach their audience directly in their chats with friends.

These Geofilters can be restricted to specific places, like stores, or to a store complex. Because they are sent by the very clients to their friends, the message value of the brand is even higher: by handing down the targeting and paternity of the message to users, Snapchat is guaranteed increased attention and a better in-store conversion.

This is why, Sephora implemented Geofilters in all of their US stores: so their clients could share their “Sephora experience” and encourage their friends to visit.

Geofilters are also available in France, at a price that varies according to the uptime – 30 days maximum – and to the surface covered by the filter. Snapchat offers an online tool to build this filter.



Who will win the drive-to-store battle?

Advertisers value the diversity of channels in order to offer different experiences and to compare their cost per visit. This is why other media channels – why not Instagram, Messenger, or even Google Maps? – will probably emerge to offer new, ever-more-accurate drive-to-store formats. As the frontier between physical and digital is growing thinner in a new “Phygital” world, the success of retail brands will now strongly rely on their ability to offer a smooth experience based on a consolidated vision of its channels.

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